Way back when…

…I was a schoolboy, aged 10, my teacher was Mr. Ross Laugher (pronounced law, not laugh-er if you valued your recess time) and he was, initial impressions and appearances to the contrary, a lovely man. Over the years, I’ve been taught by, learned alongside, learned from, and taught or mentored dozens and dozens of wonderful educators, and of them all it was Mr. Laugher who came to mind as I was walking with Scout this morning.

Damp

I suspect he popped into my head because I remember him as being so enthusiastic about the natural world. Scout, as ever, was being enthusiastic about the natural world. It was a brisk and barely above freezing outing, and we were checking in with our favourite trees and inhaling the invigorating air, damp and mossy after the overnight rains. I think Scout maps the world through her nose. Light or dark, wet or dry, she has an unerring instinct when finding her way. Scout scouting!

A favourite tree

Back to Mr. Laugher. If you didn’t know him, or were apprehensive about moving into his classroom for your final year in elementary school, you might have thought he was a slightly forbidding and imposing figure. Bearded, gold wire rim spectacles, collar and tie, corduroy slacks, an array of sweater vests, and a brisk and purposeful way with movement and words, he induced a nervousness amongst pupils who weren’t taught by him. You’ve probably had teachers like that? They have a bit of a reputation for being fierce, but if you’re lucky enough to be in their class, it turns out to be a case of bark worse than bite? Ross Laugher was like that to me. It wasn’t that he couldn’t be strict – he was – but he was fair, and you knew where the lines were.

Bark? No!

He encouraged questions, looking up answers, reading, using the library, map making, experimentation, responsibility, common sense and using your senses. I don’t remember seeing him laugh or having a sense of humour, at least not with students, but he praised enthusiasm and effort.

Bark? Yes!

Friday afternoons in the upper elementary school were devoted to clubs. You could choose from (or were assigned based on seniority and if you had previously attended or not) cookery, clay, puppets (yikes, too scary, no thanks), bird club, needlework, painting, drama, music, model making and likely many others I’ve forgotten. Mr. Laugher ran the bird club and grade 5 me did not want to be there. It was bad enough thinking about the 50:50 possibility of being in his class for grade 6, so why run into him any earlier? For the record, in grade 6 I wanted to be in Mr. Lemaire’s class. He taught music, had that early 1970s rock band hair, flared trousers and no scary gold glasses. Like, cool, man.

Another favourite

Anyway, the education gods knew best, and I got Mr. Laugher in grade 6 and bird club not puppets the back end of grade 5. Bird club? Nooooo, I thought, that’s too square, man…We would go on walks through the school grounds, peering in hedgerows and up at trees, trying to spot nests, scaring birds off before we could identify them, then sitting with binoculars hoping the scared birds would return. We also looked for tracks, put up bird houses and filled feeders. Back in class, we were encouraged to draw maps to include what we’d discovered, and use reference books to identify what we thought we’d seen, then draw and/or paint any bird that we liked. (I was always rather taken by the storm petrel. Yup, I’d also like to know why…) For homework, we were encouraged to keep a bird spotting diary. Homework? For a school club?! Like, no, man…

Bird club

I would never have chosen bird club – in my young and shallow world view, Mr. Laugher would not be mistaken for my real role models, you know, a rock god or footballer – but it turned out it was all a good fit. Superstar sports and music ambitions aside, I was already enthused by maps, and had that odd childhood love of identifying and categorizing anything from cars and planes, to tanks and trains, so bird club made a kind of sense.

I even did the homework, making maps of our backyard and noting tracks and bird sightings. Robins, thrushes and sparrows mostly. Nope, no storm petrel. As we’re all enjoying these tales from the distant past, shall we add a few more details as I remember them of childhood me?

“Is he still talking about himself? I can’t bear to watch or listen…”

Outside of school clubs, I collected football stickers, had a brief flirtation with stamp collecting, was far too keen on old WWII movies, loved Viking, Greek and Roman myths and legends, anything Arthurian (reading this now, how did I not end up some kind of swivel-eyed right leaning loon?), tales of Robin Hood (phew, looks like I also had a leaning to the left and concern for fair redistribution of wealth from the 1%) and also spent time frequently modifying and falling off modified bicycles. I never enjoyed train-spotting, because that was for nerds. Yes, I know what some of the sentences before that describe, but c’mon, there are degrees of nerd…(Oh, ok, I might have been train-spotting once or twice with friends, and I might have enjoyed it. But we’ll keep that quiet?)

Misty, slightly faded

And once again back to Mr. Laugher. He opened my eyes to the natural world in my own backyard, school yard and neighborhood. He helped me see the small natural wonders and start to understand how they are actually rather large. He wasn’t the first or only person to do this. Parents and grandparents also encouraged a love of learning and sense of curiosity, and any number of family, friends and colleagues have also done so since. But as I said at the top, it was Ross Laugher who popped into my head this morning. And here we are, many years later, me the bearded teacher, sometimes requiring glasses, and corduroys in the closet. Talk about teacher influence… Wait a minute! No no, it’s ok, I don’t have a sweater vest. How could I? There’s only one Ross Laugher – an excellent teacher and role model, and in my mind, no one will ever rock a sweater vest the way he did…

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Rainforest reminder

After a somewhat worryingly lengthy dry spell, the weather has taken a turn for the expected the past few days, and reminded us we do live in a rainforest. Temperatures have gone down, hoods have gone up, and relatively normal meteorological service has resumed.

Definitely damp

Scout can usually be relied on to jump up and be first out of the door if a walk is mentioned, but she was decidedly less enthusiastic this week as she heard the rain bouncing on the roof. In fairness, it was quite loud, and her ears are quite large. Fortunately, her curiosity always gets the better of her, or at least a fear of missing out on potential hiking snacks, and her mood always improves after the first few steps. Or bits of kibble. I find I’m the same, although I haven’t tried the kibble.

Greener

The forest smells right, with a return to wet and mulchy rather than dry and dusty, and to my eyes the greens are greener. I’ve missed the pattering of rain on leaf and raincoat, and although there’s much to enjoy hiking in the dry, it’s nice the temperatures have dropped a bit. It all feels a bit more alive somehow.

Not so gentle patter

The forecast is for a fair amount of rain the next two weeks, and we have definitely entered rain season, so let’s see how far our early enthusiasm goes. Will it be dampened? Probably not, as long as Scout can endure the indignity of towel drying each time we get home. I do assure her it’s laughing with and not at her, but she remains unconvinced…

“You said you wouldn’t share this one…”

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Seasonal greens
“Large ears? Me? Not a problem, other than I can hear him when he thinks he’s being funny…”

What is happening?!

The past few weeks have been pretty strange. That could be a reference to our prolonged and very dry spell. Or it could be a description of what has been taking place politically and economically in my birth country… Maybe it’s both. What is happening?!

Political scene

I’ve been very distracted by events back in dear old Blighty. We haven’t lived there in nearly two decades, and whatever reasons we had at the time for moving away don’t seem to have been too far off the mark all these years later. It’s not that we saw what was to come. Anyway, it’s been upsetting to see – we have family and friends enduring the ongoing political clown show, and it isn’t funny. How many Prime Ministers, Chancellors, Home Secretaries in the last few years? Months? Weeks?! What is happening?!

Scout sees things clearly. Scout for PM?

I’m very aware that there are many places suffering far worse, militarily, politically, and economically, than the UK. To my inexpert eyes, it would appear the rise of “populist” political figures (surely there’s no link between years and years of woefully underfunded education/less teaching of critical thinking and the rise of these figures?! No…) equates to the demise and decline on view.

Back on track – I like this viewpoint

A friend texted me earlier, just after Truss resigned. We’d agreed at the time she was “elected” PM that that was the bottom of the Tory barrel. Now she’s been ditched after a destructive and disastrous few weeks, and the Tories are looking once more, but where do you look if you’ve already scraped the bottom of the barrel? Is there a barrel? Is it the same barrel? Or another one underneath, one that contains some previously undiscovered talents? Isn’t the well, or barrel, dry? How low do you go? Hmmm.

Oh, I could go on, but I won’t, you’ll be pleased to hear. I’ll just get upset! Let’s try and get back on track. The almost ranting old man went for a walk with his dog, and he was calmed by that. The weather was pleasant (aside from the worrying lack of rain) and the views were lovely. The dog was content. There you go, almost normal, or what passes for normal around here. I’ll do better next week…

“Chill, man – it’ll pass…”

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Mystic haze!

Mystic haze?! Really, OldPlaidCamper? What’s going on? Too much time in the company of hobbits? Or you’re finally coming clean about those Dungeons and Dragons days? Perception altering fungi? No, nothing like that. My thanks to Vancouver Island Brewing – without their beer name inspiration, I would never have gone so far as to call this post “mystic haze!” (I mean, does that sound like my way with words?) No, this was mostly the recent weather and my beer choice coinciding… That, and the fact I was stuck more than usual for a title. I bought and enjoyed the beer, and as our recent weeks have been full of mystic haze, here we are, at possibly my longest and most pointless intro paragraph to date. Are you still here? Stick around, try the haze, it’s far out…

Like, it’s hazy here…

Fall continues to be surprisingly warm and dry, and I, less surprisingly, continue to write a version of that sentiment each week. I bet we’re all hoping this keeps up?

Happy blues

Scout and I have tripped out (teehee) most days, stopping off at our favourite stopping off places, admiring the mist and sunshine on the water, with me eventually giving way to Scout’s pleading insistence I take her picture. All is groovy on days like these.

Groovy

We had our first weather advisory of the new season last weekend, with talk of wind gusts bringing down drought weakened larger branches and cutting power. Perhaps the forecasters were hoping for a bit of meteorological disruption to the long run of placid days, and got a bit carried away? A few more leaves blew off the trees overnight, but that was about it. The weather “event” missed us, which was not a bummer at all, man.

Golden and mellow, warm and cool.

Anyway, I think we’ll leave it here for this week. Scout is looking out the front door with a meaningful expression. I think it’s the one that says it’s golden and mellow out there, with a hint of mystic haze under the rising moon. Oh, so that’s where I got it from.

Nope, it was from the beer

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Thanksgiving

We’ve been enjoying a very benign fall season so far, one where during the day temperatures have been as good as summer or better. At last! Rainforest? Not right now… Still, we know real fall and some rain is ready to make an appearance in due course, but until it does, we’re thankful for the misty mornings and mild sunny afternoons.

Misty mornings

Thanksgiving is here this coming Monday, and along with the current mellow seasonal moods, we’re thankful for so much more. We moved to Canada this time of year many years ago, so the holiday is special to us. We’re grateful to live where we do, and count ourselves fortunate to be able to do so. The wider human world appears to be as confused and contrary as ever, almost at constant war with itself over resources that ought to be enough to share, if only we could see reason and make some necessary changes for the good of all.

Still warm…

Anyway, preaching to the choir isn’t very helpful, so I’ll leave it here this week, feeling thankful for family and friends wherever they are, and thankful that we live in our quiet(ish) little corner of the world.

A quiet corner hangout

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Old stuff, new stuff (yes, this is a terrible title) and a big green space

We really enjoyed our recent visit to Quebec City, such a friendly and lively place, with an enticing mix of the old and new existing comfortably side by side. Where to start? We have so many highlights. How about outside? One large space that we grew to love very quickly was the Plains of Abraham. Such a delight to wander, a place that has always held a fascination for me since childhood. Boredom alert! Not so interesting pieces of my past are shared below. Old stuff.

Leafy and lovely

I remember as a child reading about General James Wolfe and how he was victorious in battle on the Plains of Abraham against General Montcalm and his French forces. Those childhood primer history books were old even then, written and first published when Britain still clung to notions of greatness based on empire, and were British biased to say the least. They did not go into any great details beyond the triumph of Wolfe. Not much mention of the intricacies and dubious presence of two empires busily exporting their European wars to far flung places and messing things up there. Hmm.

Anyway, younger me wasn’t too concerned or aware of missing nuances – I mostly liked the maps showing how opposing forces were arrayed. Yes, I was a nine year old armchair general. Such a strange child… Getting back to the battle on the Plains of Abraham as told in my history book, I was always bothered by the thought it wasn’t much of a personal victory for Wolfe, given that he died in the battle. Come to think of it, older me still isn’t convinced that’s the best way to win…

Bloody history acknowledged, today the Plains of Abraham are a vast green space providing city dwellers and visitors quiet places to overlook the St. Lawrence River and the town of Levis on the far bank. It’s a busy waterway down there, so if watching boats is your thing, there’s always something moving.

I like this space!

Along with the rolling fields of grass and areas of military significance, there are hundreds of leafy trees, dozens of welcoming benches and tables, as well as planted garden areas where a person can sit and stare, or sit and doze. Or both, one after the other…

We did stay awake long enough to visit the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ) which is situated overlooking the park, and if we were slightly sleepy before heading in, the collection of contemporary Quebec art dating from 1960 to the present certainly woke us up. What a vibrant and thought provoking array of work it was. New stuff! Highly recommended if you get the chance.

These stairs lead up to a wonderful contemporary collection!

I’ll leave it here for this week, with my head mentally, if not geographically, still wandering the plains, and feeling much relieved my bloodthirsty battlefield map loving younger self grew up into a pacifist. What a site, though. Did I mention how much we enjoyed it there? Here are a couple more photos:

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Chill early fall or late summer morning

Transition time! Scout and I enjoyed a chilly walk yesterday, a bright fall morning shot through with mists and spells of sunshine. Fall foliage is beginning to show, mornings are cooler, but for now we’re still just about hanging on to summer, with at least a hint of warmth most afternoons…

Late summer/early fall

A rather brief post this week as we prepare for what feels like our first longish distance trip in a number of years. Excited for that, and more to follow when we return. Where are we going? Let’s find out next week. Oh, the tension…

Warm light

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful late summer/early fall weekend! (Any Southern Hemisphere readers will be looking forward to spring – hope it’s a pleasant one!)

“Tell me again how good I look – I’m all ears…”

Calm

Wandering through town in the days following the recent long weekend, we sensed something of a turning point, both in the season and how busy things seemed. After a summer seeing long lineups morning, noon and night for popular places to eat, this week appears quite calm. Business still looks pretty good for proprietors, but the lines out the door have disappeared. Phew! Maybe it’ll be easier to snag a seat up at the brewery in the next little while…

The coastal trails are certainly quieter, and with some late season sunshine, the black rocks have been a pleasant place to sit with a cup of coffee and think calm thoughts.

Coffee stop

Mrs. PC startled a bear, or was startled by a bear the other day, as a tree Scout was exploring turned out to have a small bear heading up the other side of the trunk. A quiet and calm retreat ensured all was well, but it reminded me to look up more often, pay a bit more attention the next few weeks. Bears are filling up on berries, as evidenced by piles of purple poop deposited along the trails. So, make that looking down, as well as up, and left and right while we’re at it.

Calm

All in all, a calm and fruitful time of year in this corner of the PNW. We know the rain is coming, so we’ll enjoy the golden days while we can!

Rain? Here?!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Fogtember

If Fogust is a thing (and it is out here) then why not Fogtember?

Fogtember? Where?!

We were out on the coastal trails, remarking how sunny and warm it was for the first day of September, and how the sun sparkled on the distant water.

Casting a warm spell

We decided to stop and soak up the warmth on the black rocks, sitting above hundreds of beached and bleached logs, and watching the boats bobbing up and down just offshore. What a pleasant afternoon!

These smell good…

I clambered down to take a closer look at the logs – I like the texture and faint aroma, but don’t tell anyone, they might think that’s odd… Anyway, when I rejoined Mrs. PC up on the rocks, it was still sunny, but the afternoon was about to take a cooler turn. No, nothing I’d said, but a fog bank had rolled in pretty swiftly.

Fogtember? Maybe…

We sat for a few minutes more, and the fog swallowed the far off boats, the sun, and then the trees further along from where we sat. Fogtember had appeared!

Yup, Fogtember!

Deciding it was distinctly chilly, we set off for home, with the regular warning blasts from the lighthouse for good company. The start of September, cooler evenings, with hints of rain later this long weekend? Hmm, whisper it, but I think summer, such as it was in this little corner, might be drawing to a close…

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful long weekend! (Oh, and I almost promise not to try and make Fogtober a thing!)

Best before end of summer

Putting my feet up

Not all the time, and not entirely sloth like – it does take a bit of a walk to get to our preferred haunts. This photo was taken early July, on one of the rare sunnier days we got to enjoy.

A lazy boy?

We’ve read and heard a good deal about how many places are experiencing extreme heat and very little rain, and after the hot weather events of last summer that occurred even in this often damp and foggy little corner, we appreciate our overall good fortune.

Damp – just a hint of mist

So, here’s to a few more summery weeks, by the calendar if not always the weather, and we’ll take any excuse going to seek out quiet spots to put our feet up!

A paws for rest…

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!